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Coronel ready to lead La Salle’s title drive

Julia Coronel feels she is ripe to lead De La Salle’s title quest in the UAAP volleyball tournament. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Julia Coronel/IG

Games today:

(Mall of Asia Arena)

10 a.m. — Ateneo vs UE (m)

12 p.m. — Adamson vs La Salle (m)

2 p.m. — Ateneo vs UE (w)

4 p.m. — Adamson vs La Salle (w)


New team captain Julia Coronel will be put under the microscope as she tries to lead defending champion De La Salle University in setting its title-retention bid in motion in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Coronel, who will take over the starting setter spot after the departure of playmaker Mars Alba, would have to bring her A-game when the Lady Spikers clash against a retooled and hungry Adamson University in the main game of the   double-header opening day set at 4 p.m.

But the court general is ready.

“So far, it’s been great. I’ve already embraced my role as team captain and starting setter of the team,” she said.

“I feel that over these past months, I have already made the necessary adjustments for my role. I realized that I was put in this position because my teammates and coaches trusted me.”

Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila University and University of the East, both parading new head coaches, clash in the 2 p.m. curtain-raiser.

La Salle despite losing its seniors Alba and Jolina dela Cruz and the shocking decisions of starting middle Fifi Sharma and libero Justine Jazareno to turn pro, remains a force to be reckoned with.

Reigning Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Angel Canino is back to lead the offense of the Ramil De Jesus-mentored squad along with veteran Thea Gagate, Alleiah Malaluan, sophomore star Shevana Laput, Amie Provido, Maicah Larroza, Baby Jyne Soreño, and new starting libero Lyka de Leon.

La Salle prepared well for the collegiate wars, getting international exposure with a Thailand training camp. The Lady Spikers also won the Shakey’s Super League National Invitationals last year.

“I would say now that we are ready for this upcoming season. We had a great preparation throughout the preseason and want to end this season still holding the championship,” the 23-year-old Coronel said.

However, the Lady Falcons are no pushovers even with the exodus of its key players setter Louie Romero, Kate Santiago, Rizza Cruz and Trisha Tubu to turn pro following their third place finish last year.

JP Yude, who recently steered the Baby Falcons to their first-ever high school girls’ volleyball championship, will make his debut as women’s coach. He replaced Jerry Yee, who now handles the Lady Warriors.

Aside from losing last year’s core, Adamson will have to march into battle without top middle blocker Lorene Toring, who saw her college career come to a premature end due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The Lady Falcons are looking forward to having Angelica Alcantara as the new starting setter, while holdovers Lucille Almonte, Shar Ancheta, Jen Villegas, Antonette Adolfo, and libero Karen Verdeflor deliver the goods.

Red Bascon and Barbie Jamili are also seeking to make an impact as first-year players for Adamson, which recently won the 2024 Akari Invitational Cup after beating pro club Akari in five sets.

On the other hand, the Blue Eagles have a new tactician in Brazilian Sergio Veloso.

Coming off a 4-10 campaign last year, the first time Ateneo missed the Final Four since 2009, libero Roma Mae Doromal, AC Miner, and Lyanne de Guzman will be there to help the youngsters led by rookie setter Shaine Cortez.

UE, meanwhile, will bank on holdovers Khy Cepada, Riza Nogales, Dara Nieva, and libero Ange Reyes along with rookies Casiey Dongallo, Gracen Fernandez, and playmaker Kizzie Madriaga, all products of the decorated California Academy high school program.

In the men’s division, Nigerian Aimar Okeke will make his much-awaited debut for the Blue Eagles against the Red Warriors at 10 a.m., while the Noel Kampton-led Green Spikers and the Falcons, who have won preseason championship on their belts, collide at 12 noon.

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